simplicity and risotto

I often find that the easiest recipes are the tastiest. I do love a culinary challenge - especially ones that involve massive numbers of egg whites and an industrial apron - but most of the time I am a minimalist when it comes to food. I like short lists of ingredients and fresher-than-fresh produce. I like optional ingredients. I like blenders. I also like stirring. I like to focus on flavour combinations more so than flavour concoctions. One sentence recipes are brilliant. (Dissolve sugar in boiling water, let cool slightly and then pour in a blender with melted chocolate, silken tofu and cinnamon for vegan chocolate pudding. Or, blend a can of coconut milk, one mango, one banana, a tbsp of vodka and a tbsp of honey in a blender and then freeze for sorbet.) One sentence is all it takes to make something delicious.

This is why it took years before I made risotto. For some reason, risotto has a reputation of being a high-maintenance dish and high-maintenance often translates as difficult. I was warned that matching the quantity of rice to the liquid is tricky. I was warned that arborio rice is selfish, that it just takes and takes and takes some more. Then one day I made it. I wish that I had known earlier how simple risotto is. As long as you aren't afraid of stirring, risotto is the perfect dish to make for a crowd, or to use to clean up your pantry with.

Risotto consists of four main ingredients: arborio rice, broth, white wine and
pamigiano-reggiano. The nicer these ingredients, the tastier the risotto. Besides these four, feel free to add the contents of your kitchen fridge, or your favourite fresh vegetables.

Vegetable Risotto with Pine Nuts

serves 2


olive oil
1 onion
some fresh vegetables (such as carrot, zucchini and red pepper), chopped
fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grated
roasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs for garnish

Heat olive oil and butter in a pan. Add garlic and hot chili. Add carrot, zucchini and red pepper. Once vegetables are cooked, set aside. In a large pot heat broth. In another large pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft. Add rice and stir constantly until transparent. Add white wine. Once wine is absorbed, add one ladle of the stock. Stir. And stir. Once absorbed, add another. Repeat until stock is finished and rice is cooked. Add vegetables and stir well. Add
grated pamigiano-reggiano and salt and pepper to taste. The stock is often salty, so be sure to taste first. Serve garnished with roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs.


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